Formula Student Artificial Intelligence (FS-AI) in Siverstone

July 11th to 15th were big days for student teams from all over the world: the Formula Student UK competition took place at the Silverstone race track. For the first time in history these dates were also big days for some artificial intelligence (AI) drivers. The organizers had announced that for the 20th anniversary of the Formula Student competition there would be a special track for AI drivers, the first FS-AI UK.

The autonomous race car built in the UK by Streetdrone and IMECHE to host software written by participating student teams.

A team of five students and academic advisers from the University of Leicester went to Silverstone to participate in the event. This year our FS-AI team would only come as observers to talk to the thousands of students from more than a hundred UK and international teams. Teams brought their expertise and cars from the US, Mexico, Egypt, and Australia to name a few.

The University of Leicester team chatting with the Cardiff Racing team about their software for FS-AI.

Six teams (+ Leicester.AI) were registered for FS-AI including one German and one Swedish team. Of these teams the Germans team StarkStrom Augsburg had brought their own driver-less car and the only UK team to attempt programming the FS-AI car was Edinburgh.

Still some work to do on the night before the FS-AI car is expected on the race track...

The main idea of Formula Student is to provide an engineering competition for teams that are completely run by students. Students learn how to organize themselves and how to maintain effective teams over years. Most teams include students from as early as their first year of studies. It turns out that many of the successful teams have members from different departments and schools of their university. Business, finances, and management are some of the skills needed by larger teams that raise their own funds and cooperate with local industries.

On the last day it was finally time to see a driver-less car complete a few laps of the track. There is still some room for improvement and hopefully more teams will be able to bring their software onto the track next year.

Some of us don't need AI to complete a race. My later attempt in the simulator tells me that the car and the track would be better off with an AI driver.

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